Leading Labour lights caught in perfect political storm

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Labour’s Catherine Clancy, was the most high-profile casualty in the city’s local elections carnage as her party was annihilated.

Leading Labour lights caught in perfect political storm

Labour lost all seven of its seats — as well as Michael Ahern’s retirement, the party lost northside seats held by Ms Clancy, John Kelleher, and Michael O’Connell, and southside seats held by Ger Gibbons, Lorraine Kingston, and Denis O’Flynn.

When the new council meets next week, it will be the first time since 1979 that there will be no Labour councillors.

The party was swept aside by a surge towards Sinn Féin which won all eight seats it contested, with four poll toppers — its best electoral performance in the city since the 1920s — the Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) and independents.

Fianna Fáil won four new seats bringing it up to 10 — making it the largest party on the council.

Fine Gael returned with five seats. Its veterans Jim Corr and Brian Bermingham retired, but the party lost Emmet O’Halloran, Patricia Gosch, and failed the hold the seat it gained through Joe O’Callaghan’s co-option on to council following the death of Dave McCarthy.

Outgoing Labour Cllr Michael O’Connell said he accepted his defeat but branded the electorate’s decision not to re-elect a sitting mayor “a disgrace“.

“You take yourself out of politics for a year and you represent the city and its people and not your party,” he said.

“So for the people of Cork not to recognise that and re-elect a sitting Lord Mayor, I think it is an absolute disgrace. I would say the same thing if it was a Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin lord mayor that was not re-elected.”

Labour TD in Cork South Central, Ciaran Lynch, who will chair the banking enquiry, said while the polls indicated it was going to be a bad day for Labour, the outcome had exceeded even their worst predictions.

“The first thing we have to do now is listen to the message the electorate has sent us,” he said.

“It is incumbent on both parties in government to take a step back, evaluate the election and proceed in to the next budget on the basis that an examination will have to take place to make sure the maximum number of people feel the benefits of recovery.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said it was a good day for the party, but accepted the party isn’t out of the sin bin yet.

“Political comebacks are not immediate,” he said.

“I got that and I got the scale of our defeat in 2011. This is a milestone for the party’s rehabilitation.

“The best part of this election for the party is the emergence of a lot of new talent nationwide which will position us very well in terms of forthcoming elections.”

In the lord mayor’s ward, Cork North Central, Sinn Féin Cllr Tom Gould topped the poll with the highest vote in the city.

The AAA won two seats here — sitting Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry and Lil O’Donnell. Fianna Fáil Cllr Ken O’Flynn held his seat while his running mate, John Sheehan, also won a seat.

In Cork North West, Sinn Féin took two seats — sitting Cllr Mick Nugent topped the poll with colleague Kenneth Collins taking the third seat.

Fianna Fáil’s Tony Fitzgerald held his seat while community activist and AAA candidate Marion O’Sullivan made history when she won the fourth seat, becoming the first woman elected in that ward since it was created in 1967.

In Cork North East, Sinn Féin’s Stephen Cunningham topped the poll, the Workers Party’s Cllr Ted Tynan held his seat, as did FF Cllr Tim Brosnan and FG Cllr Joe Kavanagh — who is now the only government party councillor on the city’s northside.

Independent Cllr Mick Finn topped the poll in the South Central ward just three votes ahead of Sinn Féin’s Cllr Fiona Kerins.

Independent candidate Paudie Dineen took the third seat before Fianna Fáil took the last two seats through former councillor Tom O’Driscoll, who lost his seat in 2009, and sitting Cllr Seán Martin holding on.

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy topped the poll in the seven-seat South East ward, ahead of Sinn Féin Cllr Chris O’Leary.

Fine Gael’s Des Cahill and Laura McGonigle also held their seats.

Following a recount of counts four to six on Sunday, Fianna Fáil’s Terry Shannon was elected, before Micheál Martin’s niece, Kate Martin, lost out to party colleague Nicholas O’Keeffe, who was elected alongside Sinn Féin’s Shane O’Shea without reaching the quota.

Former Green Party councillor, TD, and senator, Dan Boyle, went out on the seventh count with 802 votes.

Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer maintained his 2009 vote to top the poll in the South West ward with the city’s second highest vote, coming in ahead of Sinn Féin’s Henry Cremin, followed by FF’s Mary Sheilds and former FF councillor Fergal Dennehy, whose brother, Brian, was also elected in Balbriggan.

Following a 15-hour recount called by FG candidate Barry Keane early on Sunday morning, he was eliminated just after 5pm yesterday.

Former FG Cllr, PJ Hourican, went on to take the fifth seat before a recount of the sixth count was called as independents Thomas Moloney and Thomas Kiely battled it out for the last seat last night.

The new councillors will spend the next week trying to thrash out a voting or pact arrangement.

Mayor crash

Cork City’s Lord Mayor Catherine Clancy was recovering yesterday after being injured in a car crash hours after losing her seat.

Ms Clancy was being driven home from the Cork count centre at City Hall in the official mayoral car when it was involved in a collision with another car at a junction on Pearse Rd near the Lough at around 3.30am.

Ms Clancy and her driver, who suffered cuts and some bruising, and some passengers in the car, were taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital for observation.

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